President Barack Obama is spreading disinformation about health care almost as quickly as he's driving up the national debt, such as that 47 million Americans can't get health care and that a government takeover would be a panacea.
Democrats have constantly demagogued the 47 million uninsured figure to gin up public fear about the scarcity of health care access, especially for the poor. They follow up with the promise that under their plan, we would achieve universal access. But both are untrue.
In "The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care," Sally Pipes points out that while there are some Americans who simply can't afford health insurance, many millions who can afford insurance choose not to buy it and "very likely would not want to be 'rescued' by mandatory socialized medicine."
In the first place, the 47 million number is grossly inflated. The Congressional Budget Office survey generating it included those who were uninsured for any part of a year, despite the fact that almost half of these remain uninsured for an average of only four months.
Some 38 percent of this 47 million -- almost 18 million -- make more than $50,000 a year, and 10 million of them make more than $75,000. Of all the uninsured groups, this is the only one that is growing, because in a still-free country, they've made their own decision not to buy expensive insurance while (most of them) are young and healthy. The Census Bureau also reports that more than 10 million of the uninsured are not American citizens.
But how about the very poor? Well, it turns out that the Democrats are shedding crocodile tears here, as well. Pipes explains that "as many as 14 million of the 45.7 million uninsured -- poor and low-income Americans -- are fully eligible for generous government assistance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP." But "they're just not enrolling in the programs."
So while Obama tells us that almost 8 million children lack health insurance, he doesn't disclose that 5 million of them only lack insurance because they haven't been enrolled in the available programs. Not only would this fact undermine the urgency of his appeal; it illustrates that even under his "universal access" plan, not everyone would acquire coverage anyway. Indeed, the CBO has estimated that some 17 million would remain uninsured if the Democrats' plan were implemented.
Yes, there are people who fall through the cracks (Pipes' words) -- mostly those who earn less than $50,000 per year but too much to qualify for government help. When it's all said and done, there are probably about 8 million of these "chronically uninsured," who really can't afford insurance and don't qualify for help -- though they are able to receive emergency room care. And many of these 8 million would be better able to afford coverage if government regulations and mandates hadn't driven up the costs so much.
But how urgent do you suppose Obama's call for universal coverage would sound if he were to come clean with these figures? The truth is he couldn't get to first base if he used the 8 million figure instead of 47 million.
But there's another important factor to keep separate, as well. There's a major difference between a lack of insurance and a lack of care. Under Obama's socialized medicine scheme, not only would universal insurance coverage be impossible to achieve but also access to medical care and the scope of care would be dramatically reduced, as it has been in every socialized system in the world and in our own government health programs.
It is axiomatic that price controls result in rationing and waiting lines, and many of the very people Obama is using to shame us into supporting socialized medicine would suffer drastic reductions in the quantity, scope and quality of care. Hit hardest would be the elderly. Big Brother would make the decision as to scope and even quality of care. Chilling evidence for this is already in the draft bills and in Obama's unwitting admissions to that effect.
It is true that our health care costs are very high and rising at alarming rates, but not for the reasons Obama wants you to believe. Rather, it's because we Americans demand greater quality care and medications (and we get them), which are expensive, and because of already excessive government interference with free market forces.
It's no wonder costs are skyrocketing when government-mandated coverage requirements choke competition and prevent more affordable plans and when 60 percent of Americans have employer-provided health insurance and don't directly pay for their care, which necessarily increases demand (and prices).
The solution lies in unleashing market forces (more on this later), not the tyrannical hand of government.